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Fiedler Lawyer Calls Reiner ‘Big Crybaby’

Times Staff Writer

Lawyers for Rep. Bobbi Fiedler (R-Northridge) and her top political aide, Paul Clarke, Thursday accused Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner of unprofessional conduct for having declared that Fiedler was engaged in “shoddy business,” even after a Los Angeles Superior Court judge dismissed indictments against Fiedler and Clarke Wednesday.

“What Ira Reiner owed the public yesterday was an apology,” said Fiedler’s co-counsel, Harland Braun, at a noon press conference. ". . . But rather what we got was political slander on a totally innocent woman (and) an inability of Ira Reiner to accept a defeat. . . . He acted like a big crybaby.”

Reiner said later that he stood by his remarks and labeled the defense counsels’ attacks “quite self-serving.”

“In terms of the underlying conduct, I don’t think that there can be any reasonable question that this is indeed shoddy business,” Reiner said. “That’s how it was characterized yesterday and, indeed, that’s what it is.”

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Reiner made his initial statements shortly after Judge Robert T. Altman dismissed Los Angeles County Grand Jury indictments against Fiedler, 48, and Clarke, 39, for having allegedly offered a $100,000 campaign contribution to lure state Sen. Ed Davis of Valencia out of California’s Republican U.S. Senate primary.

The judge--agreeing with the district attorney’s office as well as the defense--ruled that inadequate evidence existed to convict Fiedler of violating an obscure state Election Code statute making it illegal to pay a candidate to secure his withdrawal from an election. Altman, moreover, ruled that Clarke had not violated the statute even if he had offered an inducement to Davis to drop out of the race--because the state law covers the advance, payment, solicitation or receipt of money, but not an offer to pay money.

Reiner later said the Clarke ruling was based on a technicality and that the district attorney’s office may file an appeal by early next week. As for Fiedler, Reiner said that even though prosecutors did not have enough evidence to convict her at trial, “she was involved with her campaign manager (Clarke) in some pretty shoddy business, and that is trying to buy out an opponent.”

Called Unprofessional

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The five defense attorneys who held the press conference fired a series of bitter salvos at Reiner, calling his statements unprofessional, slanderous, disgraceful and ridiculous.

One attorney, former Los Angeles School Board member Tom Bartman, said Reiner should “either devote his time and effort not to persecuting innocent people but getting his own house in order, or he ought to seriously consider resigning.”

Others charged that the district attorney’s office will suffer from a credibility gap because of Reiner’s statements.

“Being a criminal defense lawyer I’m very tolerant of people with personality defects,” quipped Braun, “and Reiner has some defects. . . .”

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